Professor Gary Hansen on Cooperatives, ESOPS, and Worker Ownership

Gary Hansen was a professor of economics, and of management and human resources at Utah State University, and co-author of Putting Democracy to Work: a practical guide for...

Gary Hansen was a professor of economics, and of management and human resources at Utah State University, and co-author of Putting Democracy to Work: a practical guide for starting and managing worker-owned businesses, and of Steps to Starting a Worker Cooperative.  An outline of his work in the field and links to his writings are copied below. 

During my 40–year professional career as an academic and consultant, I became significantly involved in the study and promotion of workplace democracy, employee ownership of business enterprises through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), and worker-owned cooperatives and worker cooperative entrepreneurship in the United States, Europe and Asia.  I was also directly involved encouraging and facilitating their expansion in the 20th century. The worker cooperative movement in the United States and Canada was revitalized in the 1970s and 1980s with the help of a number of people, including Frank T. Adams and myself.”

  • ESOPs and You. (With Frank T. Adams) Ashville, North Carolina, Southern Appalachan Cooperative Center, 1st edition, 1992.
  • “The Role of cooperatives in the promotion of employment and income in the rural and informal sectors.”  Presentation at the meeting of Experts on Cooperatives convened by the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, March 29-April 3, 1993. In a background paper that I prepared for the meeting of experts, at the ILO’s request, I tried to get them to embrace and promote worker cooperatives more aggressively—despite the indifference shown by many of the ILO bureaucrats and invited “experts.” Only the Danish trade union representative agreed with me. Most of the rest were indifferent, and wedded to other forms of cooperatives.
  • Working Together to Create Jobs: A Guide to worker-owned cooperative development. I wrote this guide for ILO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, Bangkok, December 1994. The story set out in this short chapter provides a hypothetical example of how business enterprises might be systematically incubated in a developing country to provide substantial numbers of jobs and income in a community. As my friend Frank Adams said, this story was the most useful part of the guide, to give the readers an idea of just what might be accomplished using the group entrepreneurship approach.
  • “Using group entrepreneurship to create new enterprises,” Small Enterprise Development: An International Journal, March 1996. This article, which was an expanded version of a paper that I had presented at an earlier academic conference held at Cambridge University, outlined my vision of how worker cooperatives could be used for job and enterprise creating purposes.
  • Steps to Starting a Worker Co-op. A short guide that I wrote with E. Kim Coontz, UC Davis, and Audrey Malan, Northwest Cooperative Federation, in 1997.
  • “JUMP: Jobs for Unemployed and Marginalized People through self-help (Interregional programme to create decent jobs for women and men in developing and transition countries).”  Geneva: International Labour Organisation, Multi-bilaterial programme of Technical Cooperation, Programme Document, Final Version, June 29, 2001. The JUMP program document was written at the request of the ILO COOP Branch. It was intended to help obtain funding for a major project to create a significant number of jobs for unemployed and marginalized workers using worker cooperatives. The JUMP approach to creating jobs outlined in the project document was designed to pilot test these innovative cooperative and self-help approaches in 9 countries in three ILO Regions. Unfortunately, although we (Jurgen Swettmann, Huseyin Polat and I) thought it was a great idea and a well thought out proposal, it was not funded.
  • “Organizing Cooperative Businesses to Create Jobs,” Chapter 6 in Part II of A Guide to Local Economic Development, Part 1: Participant Workbook. 1st edition, 293 pages, published by WSI for USAID/USDOL, August 2003.  Part II: Resource Handbook. 1st edition, 273 pages, published by WSI for USAID/USDOL, August 2003.
  • Seymour Specialty Wire. A labor management cooperation brief published by the U.S. Department of Labor, September 1987. This is a buyout of an existing enterprise by the workers in Seymour, CT, to save their jobs.
  • “Using Cooperative Entrepreneurship for Job and Enterprise Creation in Developing Countries in Eastern Europe.” I wrote this paper because I was working in Central and Eastern Europe and other parts of the world that had serious unemployment problems. There was a need for new and innovative approaches to create jobs, so I wrote this paper to address these issues using cooperative forms of entrepreneurship. I gave this paper at a conference on internationalizing entrepreneurship education, training, and research at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, July 1-5, 1991.”

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